Friday, August 3, 2012

Lets talk

If you are not a writer you may want to skip this post.

Lets talk about writing dialogue and how I hate it. Hell I can't even spell the word correctly. After three attempts I had to let spell check do it for me. That has to be telling of something doesn't it?

So other than the opening paragraph of any story, I can't think of anything that I dread writing more than dialogue. I am just no good at it and I never have been. It seems to me that there is some sort of elusive formula that other writers use to write great dialogue and if I could just discover that I would be find. Of course I know this is completely absurd, but I hold out hope.

The thing isn't so much that I don't know what to say, or to make my characters say, I just don't know how to write their words without it sounding awkward and contrived. I never want to write the boring pointless prattle of conversation and just get to the meat of what they are talking about, but that is so unnatural. I mean It seems like just skipping the small pleasantries isn't right. Especially if you come in at the beginning of the conversation.

If I had my way no conversation would ever start at the beginning. All of the awkward "Hi how are you? How ya been?" stuff would just not exist. I would start in the middle where they are coming to the witty anecdote or the sage advice. Sadly it doesn't always work out like that. Talk about being abrupt.

Actually that is how the husbeast describes our conversations. He says it is like I have half the conversation in my head and just start in the middle, often times leaving him confused about what is going on. I don't want to leave my readers feeling confused.

Then I come to the problem of the actual writing. We are talking the technical part of writing out dialogue. I just don't know how to do it where it makes sense. I mean I can't just let them talk, especially if there are more than two people involved. I mean I know I can to a degree just let them banter back and forth, but it is so hard to identify each individual voice without leaving someone asking "Wait who said that?".

Also there is the general fact that my characters never just sit still and talk. They do things. They fidget with jewelry, watch people passing by, eat their salads, look intently at the other person, or whatever it is. I don't know how to put that in there when it seems important to me and not be distracting to the conversation that is poorly trying to take place.

For me writing dialogue is a lot like a first kiss every single time. It is awkward, I am not sure what to do with my hands, or if my breath smells, or if my lips are too wet or dry, or if I even want to be kissing this guy. Nine times out of ten we collide foreheads, smash noses, miss the lips all together, and in general have an awkward unpleasant embarrassing moment that we try and laugh off and correct with less nerves the second time around. Only unlike the usually less awkward second kiss, for me the dialogue still remains clumsy and oafish.

There is that great once in a while when it is perfect. Everything comes together just the way it should and it is like magic. Fireworks explode in the night sky, angels sing, you are bathed in a strange sunbeam, and you achieve perfect bliss. I have actually had a first kiss like that, so I know how good it really feels. I have also had dialogue that came out that amazing, but it was probably only so exciting because it had never happened before.

All of this typically leads to characters who think to themselves a whole lot but rarely ever say anything to anyone. This would be great if they were all telepathic but I have never written a story where that comes into play. Now that I think about that telepathy would still be a conversation, just using their brains and not their mouths. Somehow I envision that being more awkward.

So basically what I am saying is my dialogue sucks. It feels awkward and contrived to me and just poorly written. Perhaps I should stick to writing stories about mutes, or where it is just one person alone in the wilderness with no one to talk to but themselves.

Seeing as how neither of those things are going to happen I am open to advice or suggestions. Perhaps I should just farm the dialogue in my stories out to more skilled dialogue writers. That is an option isn't it?
I am hopeless.

1 comment:

  1. I think you write it all out, awkward and everything. Let it be clunky. Include all the action descriptors. Then go back and get VICIOUS. Sack and pillage until its tight.

    Also, you know how to work with a character's voice. You do it all the time in SAPA. The process translates here, almost exactly.

    $0.02 deposited.